Cape Town's Date & Time

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

(2/15) School, (2/16) First day tutoring

Monday (2/15): Woke up to a cloudy day and to my uncompleted paper. I had no troubles completing it in time for class; I just needed to save it on a disk drive to print it later in the day. Tiffany and I are on a roll with walking everyday to class, so it was nice to know that I wouldn’t be doused for my first class. Once again our Liberation of Southern Africa professor proved to be a little difficult to follow. He uses a projector and hand written notes; a severe contrast to power point presentations back home. We discussed A LOT of different concepts in the 45-minute period of class. I seriously need to get reading on my own time to help strengthen my own knowledge base.

My gender class is always entertaining. We discussed the sex-education film we had watched last week and were also able to discuss the gender/sex debate surrounding South African runner Caster Semenya just last year. Caster won the gold medal in Berlin after having destroyed the 800-meter record. She went under fire after it was leaked that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAFF) was conducting a “gender verification test” after speculation surrounding her gender/sex grew. This will easily be my favorite class this semester.

Pictures of campus

After class I ran to the Interstudy office to print off my paper due at noon for Africa: Making of a Continent. The paper was dull and on the use of “loaded” terms (specifically tribe, primitive, civilization, and race) while discussing the histories of Africa. During class we watched a film and I (in the front row) slept through the entirety of it. I don’t know what it is about the front row, I just can’t maintain any sort of composure when I am that close to a professor/screen/board/etc.

Tuesday (2/16) I had a big Tuesday! Not only did I attend my first African Instruments class (amazing) but also had my first tutoring session for SHAWCO. I came home absolutely exhausted.

Before African Instruments and SHAWCO, I had my first tutorial for Liberation in Southern Africa. Basically a small group of us met under the supervision of a graduate student to discuss this week’s lecture. We were asked to prepare some sort of review of an article, chapter of a book, movie, etc. that correlates to the liberation struggle of South Africa. I reviewed a New York Times article discussing Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990. Our group discussion was incredible. Our tut leader was beyond impressive, he was on his 7th year of university and spoke over 8 languages. The students were equally fascinating, I have the most eloquently spoken class ever, these kids are orators. Instead of silently listening to each other ramble, students actively participated in discussion, which led class to fly by. The tutorial will make up for the professor’s lectures, although I learn a lot during them, the tutorial did prove to really dig deep into things we just brushed through in lecture.

African Instruments is going to change my life. When I walked into the studio, I was initially a little perplexed by the lack of instruments, but the class was told to remove our shoes and create a circle because we needed to understand “beat and rhythm” before we play anything. Basically the entire class was a stomp and clap dance session. Let me tell you, I have no beat, but I loved every minute of it. Some kids really picked up things fast, but for the rest of us our professor was really patient and in great spirits. I got a high five at the end of class.

I headed home for lunch (peanut butter and banana sandwiches are beginning to dominate my meals) before heading back up to SHAWCO to wait for a bus to take me to Kensington. Lindsey’s friend Kara (both go to Tufts) and I both were allotted 7th graders with another girl. By the time we arrived at the community center the 37 students were already in a room waiting for us. We were yet to receive our curriculum manual so there was quite a bit of improvising going on for the first day. All the students can speak English, but they speak Afrikaans mainly at home. Despite South Africa having 11 official languages, it is beyond evident that one’s success is correlated to one’s ability to communicate in English. Our tutoring sessions are only an hour and fifteen minutes, but it was enough to wipe me out (I slept the entire bus ride home). The kids behaved great considering the circumstances. We were in a really small space and getting through logistical stuff (what's your name, mine is...) is enough to bore any one, so it was a good start. For our first lesson I had each student write a short story about their neighborhood/community because it is an easy ice breaker. I need to bring a map of the U.S. to show them were Wisconsin is next time. And apparently Beyonce and Manchester United are hugeeee! We got slightly off topic for a while discussing music and sports. It will be interesting to see how many continue to show up as the semester continues.

Dinner was amazing. We had Taco Tuesday. It was a bit of a flash back to freshmen year in the dorms, but it was delicious. I can’t take any credit for the cooking, but I did do a great “clean up” job after we made a bit of a mess with the guacamole.

Above: Our kitchen
Below: Family room/study area/general hangout

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